Friday, 1 November 2013

Unpopular Science



Another cartoon from November's edition of Prospect magazine.

And Wikipedia says:

In particle physics, antimatter is material composed of antiparticles, which have the same mass as particles of ordinary matter but have opposite charge and other particle properties such as lepton and baryon number. Encounters between particles and antiparticles lead to the annihilation of both, giving rise to varying proportions of high-energy photons (gamma rays), neutrinos, and lower-mass particle–antiparticle pairs. Setting aside the mass of any product neutrinos, which represent released energy which generally continues to be unavailable, the end result of annihilation is a release of energy available to do work, proportional to the total matter and antimatter mass, in accord with the mass-energy equivalence equation, E=mc2.
Antiparticles bind with each other to form antimatter just as ordinary particles bind to form normal matter. For example, a positron (the antiparticle of the electron) and an antiproton can form an antihydrogen atom. Physical principles indicate that complex antimatter atomic nuclei are possible, as well as anti-atoms corresponding to the known chemical elements. To date, however, anti-atoms more complex than antihelium have neither been artificially produced nor observed in nature. Studies of cosmic rays have identified both positrons and antiprotons, presumably produced by high-energy collisions between particles of ordinary matter.
There is considerable speculation as to why the observable universe is apparently composed almost entirely of ordinary matter, as opposed to a more symmetric combination of matter and antimatter. This asymmetry of matter and antimatter in the visible universe is one of the greatest unsolved problems in physics.[2] The process by which this asymmetry between particles and antiparticles developed is called baryogenesis.
Antimatter in the form of anti-atoms is one of the most difficult materials to produce. Antimatter in the form of individual anti-particles, however, is commonly produced by particle accelerators and in some types of radioactive decay.

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